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Movement against the location of the Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisboa, Portugal

Environmental movements presented data in favor of alternative routes to build the bridge. The debate around the use of public transport and railways expanded.


In 1991, the Government of Portugal created a new department for managing the construction of the new crossing of the Tagus River at Lisbon called GATTEL. The office identified three potential corridors for the new road bridge: eastern (Sacavém-Montijo), central (Chelas-Barreiro), and western (Algés-Trafaria).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Movement against the location of the Vasco da Gama bridge in Lisboa, Portugal
State or province:Lisboa
Location of conflict:Lisboa
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Land
Transport services
Project Details and Actors
Project details

It is the longest main bridge in Europe (including viaducts) with a total length of 17.2 kilometres (10.7 mi)), including 0.8 kilometres (0.50 mi) for the main bridge, 11.5 kilometres (7.1 mi) in viaducts, and 4.8 kilometres (3.0 mi) in dedicated access roads.

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Project area:17,2 km
Level of Investment:1,107,650,000
Type of populationUrban
Start of the conflict:01/01/1991
Company names or state enterprises:Consórsio Lusoponte (Lusoponte) from Portugal
Relevant government actors:Gabinete de Travessia do Tejo em Lisboa (GATTEL)
Comissão de Acompanhamento da Obra (CAO)
Ministérios do Planejamento, Ambiente, Indústria, Emprego, da Defesa e da Justiça
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Associação de Montijo e Alcochete para a Defesa da Qualidade de Vida (AMA)
Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza (Quercus)
Grupo de Estudo de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente (GEOTA)
Instituto Dom Dinis (IDD)
Liga de Proteção da Natureza (LPN)
World Wild Fund For Nature (WWF)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Noise pollution
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Institutional changes
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:Environmental movements presented data that favored other corridors to build the bridge. The debate around the use of public transport and railways expanded.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The route in which the bridge was built was the one contested by the NGOs. However, the intervention by them helped expand their participation in decision-making process and in the construction monitoring committee, which allowed them to directly challenge the actions and omissions as to the EIA.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

GARCIA, José, L.; SUBTIL, Filipa. Conflito social e ambiental – a ponte Vasco da Gama. Análise Social, v. 33, p. 707-746, 1998.
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MELO, João Joanaz. The Vasco da Gama Bridge on the Tagus Estuary: A paradigm of bad decision making, but good postevaluation, World Transport Policy & Practice. Volume 6, n.2. 2000
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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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PAeM – Vídeos sobre as pontes do rio Tejo
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LUSA. Ponte Vasco da Gama foi construída há 10 anos. Jornal Público. Nacional, 25 de Março de 2008.
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network


Vasco da Gama bridge
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Meta information
Contributor:Francisco Fernandes, Inês Ribeiro and Sofia Bento
Last update18/08/2019
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